Drought has contributed to New Zealand’s sheep flock falling over the past year.
But this country’s brand in India has a huge advantage in that it has no negative associations whatsoever, other panel speakers told the Auckland conference.
The panel discussion was led by Beef + Lamb NZ international trade manager Esther Guy-Meakin.
Ravi Mehta, a partner in PwC NZ, said many conversations with bigger clients in India, in an inbound context, always stopped at Queenstown, Pinot and cricket.
“What surprises me each time in those conversations is that we just don’t get to the level of sophistication that we probably need to,” he told Rural News. “We probably need to move a little bit beyond Fonterra.”
He didn’t expect a free trade agreement to be reached by the two countries in his lifetime and the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) is a completely different concept, he said.
“If we tell the New Zealand story a little bit better in India for the bigger corporates it may pave the path for New Zealand, the smaller end of town, and emerging private companies to go and tell their story and sell their products.”
We have a tendency in marketing “to do stuff on the smell of an oily rag,” he said.
In India everyone is talking about scaleability and US dollars. In New Zealand we are not necessarily geared towards that. But we are able to show that once we get into the market and build relationships we can be really successful, he says.
New Zealand needs to show the mutual benefit in partnerships.
“We have Indian business that says ‘come and help us and we will help you’, and then New Zealand says ‘we will do the same thing’. I think somewhere along the way the conversation needs to be ‘we will both grow together’.”
Bharat Joshi, chief executive of J Curve Ventures, Delhi, says the brand New Zealand is a strong brand and a benign brand in India.
“There is something to be said for a brand that has a complete absence of any negative association. That in itself is a big deal. How does one leverage this brand? It is like an asset from a business perspective that is not monetised. How wasteful is that? There’s so much more to be done. Just look at your external engagements. How much resource do you put into India?”
He said the conversation needs to move beyond agri and dairy.
But the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade’s principal policy advisor Grahame Morton said the New Zealand brand in India isn’t related to dairy. It is more related to images of our country.
“But the people who are successful are excellent at telling the story in a much more human and different way.”
But he agreed there is a huge opportunity to build on a brand that is not a negative brand at all. “That may sound like a low bar to start off with but when you look at country brands around the world there are lots that are not neutral brands, not positive brands.”